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Sept. 01--El Nido, Palawan: Ayala-led integrated resorts developer El Nido Resorts will invest P6 billion to build 1,200 hotel rooms in the 325-hectare tourism project Lio in the next five years as a part of the development's Phase 1 masterplan.

Laurent Lamasuta, president of El Nido Resorts, said in a press briefing last Friday that the establishment of 1,200 hotel rooms will accommodate "a very big market" of tourists and backpackers, particularly the domestic market, which accounts for more than 50 percent of tourist arrivals in El Nido, Palawan.

Lamasuta said the 1,200 hotel rooms consist of the 150-room Seda Hotel, 30 to 40-room breakfast-in-bed type hotels, and other branded hotels to locate in the area. Seda will be the first to be established, and is expected to break ground "by early next year."

The creation of hotel rooms is part of Lio's five-year Phase 1 masterplan, which includes the establishment of retail strips and boutiques, as well as a residential area. It is also in line with Ayala Land Inc.'s (ALI) plans to raise its hotel portfolio to 4,000 rooms in 2015 from 2013's 2,000 hotel rooms.

A total of P6 billion is allotted for Lio's development towards 2019, working on 25 hectares in the first five years out of the total 325 hectares of Lio, which is seen to be fully completed in 20 to 25 years, said Arturo Corpuz, ALI senior vice president in Urban and Regional Planning.

Lamasuta said Lio's beachfront will have a width of 4.2 kilometers, with the front area to be offered to locators and investors planning to put up their businesses in the area.

Besides the hotel, retail and residential projects, Lio's development by 2015 will include opening an airport terminal, jetti, three small hotels, and other establishments.

"The market is now ready. We're seeing that people are paying P8,000 per room per night and filling accommodations [in hotels]," said El Nido Resorts' Resident Biologist and Environment Manager Mariglo Laririt.

"The airport is also a big component of the [Lio] development. I think we should also really see the infrastructure that will bring people in place so [it will] help to try to bring in tourists," Lamasuta said.

El Nido Resorts is expecting an additional 20,000 tourists to visit yearly after the completion of Lio.

ALI's resorts developer Ayalaland Hotels and Resorts Corp. fully acquired El Nido Resorts in November last year through the purchase of a 40 percent stake in El Nido Resorts from Asian Conservatory Company. This allowed the Ayala Group to own 100 percent of the Palawanbased resorts developer.

El Nido Resorts owns, operates and maintains El Nido in Palawan, which is an island resort complex, and the Lagen, Miniloc, Apulit and Pangulasian island resorts.

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